19If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. 21For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; 22for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. 23But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
1 Corinthians 15:19-26
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said?
- Why is this happening/being said?
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it?
- What does it mean?
- What does it mean for us?
Reading Scripture to Grow:
- What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
- Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
Reflection: The picture above represents the up and down realities of Holy Week. The cross is still present, for we cannot celebrate the life of Christ without remembering his death. The cross above is dark, a reminder of the solemn gravity of the death of Christ and the darkness of our sin which Christ took upon himself. Yet, the cross is now empty. Jesus is no longer there. The cross-event has happened, but it is not the final word. Look at the sun rising brightly behind the cross. The one who has died amidst the darkness of the cross has risen again to new life and brought to us all the light of God’s goodness, mercy, love, and grace. Where will you abide this week? In the dark realities of the cross? In the light of the rising Son? The answer is both. This week we straddle the line between death and life, between sin and victory, between darkness and light. This week we must confront both realities, just as our Savior and Lord did. Feel the weight of your sin; feel the freedom of forgiveness. Experience the sorrow of the cross; rejoice in the resurrection. Know that Christ has died for you; expect the one who has risen to give you new life.
Prayer Focus: In his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul writes these words: “For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” In our Scripture for this week, Paul writes that Christ will “[destroy] every ruler and every authority and power.” What are the powers at work in your life that become obstacles to communing with God? What powers are at work in your community that prevent your community from reflecting God’s kingdom? As you pray, imagine Christ destroying those powers. Watch him as he confronts them in all of their darkness. See his light shine so brightly that they disappear. Then feel the warmth of Christ’s love, grace, and resurrection power fill you and your community with life. Imagine what it would look like in your life and the lives of the people around you if our darkness and the powers that bind us were destroyed by God’s life and goodness. Ask God to make this so, and now watch as he brings it about through you.
Meditation Focus: About a thousand years ago, a man named Anselm wrote a book entitled Cur Deus Homo, or Why God Became Human. Such a question continues to call to our hearts today. Spend some time pondering that question. Why did God the Son become human, even when it would mean that he would experience the fullness of our human suffering: temptation, sorrow, the weight of human sin, and cruel death upon the cross? Such a life of suffering and death would break down the barriers between God and humanity, so that we could share in everlasting, loving communion together. So, ask it again: Why did he do it? Did he do it for someone? Did that “someone” include you? What does that mean about how God views you? What must God think of you? Sit with those questions in a prolonged time of silence and allow God to answer them for you. Resist any personal urge to explain those questions away or to answer them yourself in a way that would trivialize your meaning to God. Repeat it over and over: God became human because God loves me. God wants to know me and wants me to know him. Nothing, not even death, will get in God’s way.
Journaling Focus: Take some time this week to write your honest feelings about the cross. It is not the most lovely symbol we could cling to. We have sanitized it, transformed it into a metal jewelry piece, and cleansed it of its repulsive nature as an instrument of death and human suffering. The cross has great depth of meaning though. It stands as a reminder of the sacrificial nature of Christ’s love and the seriousness of sin. Does the cross still have significance to us so long after the crucifixion of Christ and in this “enlightened” age? Is it antiquated and too brutal for our present tastes? Does Christ still call us to take up our cross and follow him (Matthew 16:24; Luke 9:23)? What does it mean for us to “take up the cross” or “go to the cross” in our present context? Why can’t we just focus on the resurrection without mentioning the cross? Sit with the discomfort of the cross and write down what you feel. This is a week of both discomfort and joy. On your journey between both extremes, you might just find Christ journeying alongside of you.
Breath Prayer: Father, bring me (us) into the life of Christ.